It’s now 2 p.m., Vietnam time, and I’m sitting in a restaurant/internet cafe, one of two in the transit area of the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi. Incongruously, for this Communist country, it would seem, Christmas decorations abound in the restaurant–tinsel, fake candy canes, a plastic tree with blinking lights, and Santas and other decorations attached to the walls. It’s a fairly festive atmosphere, especially with Christmas songs playing in the background–Jingle Bells, Here Comes Santa Claus, Rudolph the RNR and others, but nothing overtly religious. I wonder how much Christmas atmosphere there is in Hanoi itself. In this restaurant in the transit lounge, it’s probably not that surprising since a number of Westerners must wait here for their flights departing out of the country. There were quite a few of us about half an hour ago, but now I’m alone in the place, which is kind of a cross between art-deco and neo-communist chic. As if I would know. (I took a photo and I’ll post it in this entry when I return to Korea.)
The flight here was uneventful, though I wouldn’t give Vietnam Airlines the same lofty status I give to Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airlines or Thai Orchid, for example. (No, I’m not name-dropping.) The food was mediocre, the cabin staff kind of stand-offish, and there was no video-on-demand (individual video choice) despite the presence of individual screens in the seatback in front of me. The screens didn’t work and neither did the sound over the headphones, so we were stuck watching “Get Smart” on the overheads without sound. I give them 2 stars out of 5. Maybe I’m getting jaded.
The only interesting things so far have been the restaurant and the immense emptiness of Incheon International Airport at 4:30 in the morning, the time I arrived there. What few people were there at that time were swallowed up by the cavernous departure hall. It seemed like I had the whole place to myself. Next stop, Vientiane. More later.